Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge held in Crestview

Special to Gannett

CRESTVIEW — The Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge took place Jan. 9 at the Perfect Fit 24/7 gym in Crestview.

Contestants from Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Milton and Crestview competed in the event. Proceeds benefited area organizations who assist military veterans and work to end veteran suicides.

"We raised $1,800, which will go to pay for six Post 9/11 veterans to go through our equine therapy or riding program with our collaborative partner Narissa Jenkins and Healing Hoofsteps of Crestview," said Jamie Wells, one of the event's organizers. "They are ranked No. 3 out of over 700 in the country, and we will be sending our veterans there -- as many as we can."

Rick and Rebecca Winkler accepted an award from Jamie Wells (center) after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview. The award was presented on behalf of their nonprofit, Winkler's Wish,  devoted to veteran suicide prevention. They lost their son, Richard Andrew Winkler, a few years ago to suicide, and they fight to help other veterans now. "We gave them the award for true power and perseverance as a way of honor and remembrance," Wells said.
The Defenders of Freedom-Florida powerlifting competition raised enough money that event organizers were able to present a check for $1,800 to Healing Hoofsteps Jan. 10 in Crestview. It will be used to provide equine therapy to three post-9/11 veterans, and six more can join HH's new riding program.

Award winners

Participants competed in the bench, squat and deadlift categories.

The top finishers in each category are listed below.

WOMEN'S STANDINGS

Lightweight: 1. Gisela Salazar, 2. Kelby Barfield.

Middle: 1. Angelina Shannon, 2. Alissa Horton, 3. Londyn Ferguson.

Heavy: 1. Katie Sprage, 2. Tara Schneider, 3. Jennifer Lynch.

Gisela Salazar accepts her first place trophy, lightweight division, from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview.
Angelina Shannon accepts her first place trophy, middle weight division, from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview.
Katie Sprage accepts her first place trophy, heavyweight division, from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview.

MEN's STANDINGS

Lightweight: 1. Anthony Gonzales

Middle: 1. Michael Shearn, 2. Anthony Ruehl, 3. Justin Ayers & Rodric Cabrera

Heavy: 1. Jeffrey Cantillon, 2. Trenton Robinson & Markus Green, 3. Raymond Busby

Anthony Gonzales accepts the male lightweight division first place trophy from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview.
Michael Shearn accepts the male middleweight division first place trophy from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview.
Jeffrey Cantillon accepts the male heavyweight division first place trophy from Jamie Wells after the Defenders of Freedom-Florida Powerlifting Challenge Jan. 9 in Crestview. He also won the “Captain Michael MacKinnon Best Overall “ award, which was named after Wells' good friend and commander, who was killed in Iraq. "We honor him and his family at each event," Wells said.,

"Without a community and businesses sponsoring our event we could not have pulled this off," Wells said. 

Sponsors included Green Beret Group; MaxFit Sports Nutrition Crestview; Pounders Hawaiian Grill; Float Brothers of Destin; Mark Gilmore; The Hangar American Grill; Axe Warriors; and Veterans Roasters Cup O’Joe.

Judges were Bryan May, Jeremy Richter, and Jennifer Lecates, and photos were provided by Eric and Jada Nicholson of J&S Photos.